October 11, 2011 News & Features » Cover Story

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The (Unofficial) 2011 Richmond Folk Festival Guide 

From Chicago blues to Tibetan chants, we're going exotic places yet again.

Page 8 of 10

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Tony Ellis and the Musicians of Braeburn
The Banjo Master

Legendary twanger Tony Ellis will make the Richmond Folk Festival a family outing. He's joined by his wife, Louise, on pump organ and son, William Lee, on guitar.

The North Carolina native has been picking since high school when he traded a saxophone for a resonator banjo and his fiddle-playing grandma taught him a thing or two. She must have taught him the right moves, because the youngster went on to tour with Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys and play the Grand Ole Opry and Carnegie Hall.

Ellis' style is what you might call cool banjo, with relaxed tempos and crisp plucks that saunter alongside beautiful melodies. Occasionally he lets loose and sounds scurry like hounds on a rabbit trail, combining traditional bluegrass and old-time style. There's a hint of traditional Irish flavor thrown in from time to time too. Experience banjo like you've never heard it before in the hands of a master. — Hilary Langford

Tony Ellis and the Musicians of Braeburn

Saturday

2:30 p.m.
Community Foundation Stage

Sunday

2:30 p.m.
Community Foundation Stage

Sunday

4 p.m.

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Tibetan Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery
Chants Encounter

Monks likely will reject the rock-star label, but the multiphonic singers of the Drepung Loseling Monastery are kind of a big deal.

They've shared the stage with Patti Smith, the Beastie Boys and Natalie Merchant, among others, and have sold out legendary venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center. With vibrant costumes and temple instruments such as the long horn trumpet and cymbals, these lamas come to audiences with traditional chants and masked dances, including the famous Dance of the Sacred Snow Lion. Their intent is to bring healing through sacred art and preserve the threatened Tibetan culture.

Did we mention that both the Dalai Lama and Richard Gere are big fans? Told you they were something special. — Hilary Langford

The Tibetan Monks

Saturday

8:15 p.m.
MWV Stage

Sunday

12:15 p.m.
MWV Stage

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